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Veremonte quits BCN World but plans for the multibillion casino, hotel and shopping resort go on

Veremonte has walked out on the BCN World project, the largest holiday resort in Europe based in the Costa Daurada, near Tarragona, as first announced by the Catalan Business Minister, Felip Puig, on Thursday and later confirmed by the company itself. However, Puig has assured that this will not impede the project's continuation as companies such as Melco, Hard Rock, Grup Peralada and Value Retail remain committed to it. Veremonte did not provide any further details about its decision. The investment company was initially leading the initiative and had reached an agreement with La Caixa bank to buy 500 hectares of land in 2012. However, it missed the final deadline last December to do so and the Catalan Government had to jump in to guarantee the project's continuation, reaching an agreement with La Caixa for the land. However, Veremonte was still linked to the initiative through the casino licences' tender, which it bidding for in partnership with Hard Rock and Melco.

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04 June 2015 09:40 PM

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ACN

Barcelona (ACN).- Veremonte has walked out on the BCN World project, the largest holiday resort in Europe based in the Costa Daurada, near Tarragona, as first announced by the Catalan Business Minister, Felip Puig, on Thursday and later confirmed by the company itself. However, Puig has assured that this will not impede the project's continuation as companies such as Melco, Hard Rock, Grup Peralada and Value Retail (owner of La Roca Village) remain committed to it. Veremonte did not provide any further details about its decision. The investment company was initially leading the initiative and had reached an agreement with La Caixa bank to buy 500 hectares of the land in 2012. However, it missed both the first and the second deadline (last December) to do so.  Due to this situation, the Catalan Government had to jump in to guarantee the project's continuation, reaching an agreement with La Caixa for the rights to buy the land. Until Thursday's announcement, Veremonte was still linked to the initiative through the casino licences' tender, which it was bidding for in partnership with Hard Rock and Melco. From today, Veremonte leaves the project and will have to reach an agreement concerning its participation in the licence tender.


The Catalan Minister's announcement coincided with the resignation of Veremonte CEO, Xavier Adserà, a Catalan entrepreneur considered the "right-hand man" of Spanish businessman Enrique Bañuelos, who is the main owner of Veremonte and who has been the main promoter of the BCN World project so far. Adserà – originally from Tarragona – was Veremonte's main representative dealing with the land on which the holiday resort is to be developed, now in the hands of the Catalan Government. Along with the Catalan entrepreneur, Sonia De Maré – Head of Veremonte's External Relations – also left the company.

"Veremonte's withdrawal is not a problem", Catalan Minister Felip Puig said

For Catalan Minister Felip Puig, now that Veremonte is out "the operation is much more viable," as companies interested in investing can negotiate with the Catalan Government "directly and without intermediaries". Indeed, the Catalan Executive has held several business meetings with representatives from Chinese casino group Melco, American entertainment group Hard Rock, Catalan casino, hotel and winemaking group Grup Peralada and UK shopping centre management company Value Retail.

The theme park PortAventura, controlled by the Italian Investindustrial and the American KKR, is also interested in the project, which is to be developed next to its facilities. PortAventura has just started the construction of Ferrari's first theme park in Europe, Ferrari Land, on land next to BCN World's future location. PortAventura may also develop and run some of the new project’s hotels and is also meeting with the Catalan Government.

Commenting on the withdrawal of Veremonte, Puig said that "after the initial impulse, the investment company did not meet the exclusivity agreement that it had [concluded with La Caixa bank in 2012]". "Therefore, the Catalan Government took the leadership of the project", he explained. However, the Catalan Minister thanked the company "for promoting a viable initiative, underlining that Veremonte "launches projects and seeks funding for them".

Veremonte’s withdrawal "is not a problem," concluded Puig, stating that "the other companies involved in BCN World will bring the project forward in all its aspects – casinos, hotels and restaurants." The Government hopes that firms such as Melco, Hard Rock, Grup Peralada and Value Retail will remain committed to the project. Their presence is indeed fundamental, especially after the withdrawal of Veremonte and its main promoters, Enrique Bañuelos and Xavier Adserà.

"Weekly contact is maintained with the casino companies", Damià Calvet said in May

According to the initial idea, the BCN World project will include – among other facilities – 6 mega-casino, hotels, amusement parks and shopping malls. The project was initially supposed to develop a $6 billion investment, building 6 mega-casinos and hotels with some 12,000 rooms in total. Melco, Hard Rock and Grup Peralada participated in the casino licences' tender and were pre-selected at the first stage (the second stage is still to be held).

In detail, Chinese gambling giant Melco was pre-selected for two licences: one in a joint venture with Veremonte and the other one alone. US multinational Hard Rock obtained one, also in partnership with Veremonte. Grup Peralada was unexpectedly pre-selected for a fourth licence.

In May, Damià Calvet – Director of INCASÒL (the Catalan Government's subsidiary that manages public land in Catalonia) and Executive Coordinator of the resort's project – remarked that Melco, Hard Rock and Grup Peralada "are totally committed to the project". He also explained that weekly contact is maintained with these casino companies.

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  • BCN World should be built next to PortAventura theme park (by ACN)

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